A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1923.
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The parish of Tidmarsh, containing nearly 785 acres of land, of which 294 are arable, 240 permanent grass and 100 woods and plantations, (fn. 1) lies immediately to the south of Pangbourne; its eastern and southern boundaries are formed by Sulham Brook and other small water-courses. The parish is very well wooded, especially in the eastern part adjoining Sulham. The names of several copses recall the stretches of moor-land which were the cause of so much litigation in the 13th century. (fn. 2)
The village, which is approached at either end through an avenue of trees, stands in a pretty valley at the centre of the parish on the main road to Basingstoke and close to the River Pang, which flows northwards through the parish. The village is comparatively modern, the brick cottages being generally roofed with tiles. The church of St. Lawrence stands in a churchyard inclosed by a brick and flint wall between the river and the high road about 100 yards south of the cross-roads. The old manor-house, which was partially pulled down in 1878, was on a hill about a mile from the church. The present house stands about a quarter of a mile south-west of the church. By the river on the south side of the road to Sulham is a water-mill. The nearest station is on the Great Western railway at Pangbourne, about a mile north. The soil is alluvium and chalk, the subsoil chalk. The chief crops are cereals and roots.
The following place-names occur in local records: Morpitecroft, Heilegh Wood, (fn. 3) Levedifield, le Hok, (fn. 4) Trescoteslese, the water-course called Pang burne (fn. 5) (xiii cent.); Rackeclose Field, (fn. 6) Harecroftes, (fn. 7) Asshengarden (fn. 8) (xvi cent.).
The earliest mention of the manor of TIDMARSH occurs in 1239, when the estate was the subject of a dispute between Geoffrey the son of John de Thedmers or Tidmarsh and his half-sister Juliane the wife of Adam the son of Hervey. (fn. 9) The manor was held by service of finding one knight to guard the castle of Wallingford for forty days in time of war, by scutage and by suit of court at Wallingford. (fn. 10) The overlordship continued to form part of the honour of Wallingford (q.v.) until 1500, when it is last mentioned. (fn. 11)
The manor probably belonged towards the end of the 12th century to Hugh de Tidmarsh, (fn. 12) whose son John died seised of 2 carucates of land there before 1222. (fn. 13) The custody of this land and of John's son Geoffrey was granted to Piers the son of Herbert, (fn. 14) one-third of the estate being assigned in dower to Geoffrey's mother, Maud de Berners. (fn. 15) Early in 1223, however, a certain Gunnora de Bendenges appeared and claimed dower out of the manor as the widow of John; whereupon Piers, not unnaturally, sought judgement in the king's court whether he were bound to assign dower to two widows of the same man. (fn. 16) A suit then took place between Gunnora and Maud, who was at that time the wife of Ellis de Pokeslegh. (fn. 17) Maud at first pleaded that Gunnora had never been lawfully married to John, but on the second day she and her husband did not appear in court, and judgement was given in favour of Gunnora, who had apparently been able to prove her marriage in the ecclesiastical court. (fn. 18) As, however, Geoffrey received the inheritance the dispute was revived on his coming of age in 1236, for Gunnora maintained that the true heir of John was her daughter Juliane. (fn. 19)
It was eventually agreed that the inheritance should be divided, and in 1239 Geoffrey granted to Juliane and her husband, Adam the son of Hervey, a moiety of two-thirds of the manor and mill of Tidmarsh, together with certain lands and the whole of the advowson, in return for a quitclaim from Juliane of all her right in this property. (fn. 20) The remaining third, which was still held in dower by Gunnora, (fn. 21) was to be divided on her death, (fn. 22) when Adam and Juliane were to receive for themselves and the heirs of Juliane two messuages, one of which stood at the end of the vineyard in Tidmarsh and had a garden attached to it, together with one-third of the vineyard and a moiety of the remaining property; the rest of the estate, together with the reversion of the whole should Adam and Juliane die without children, was to remain to Geoffrey and his heirs. (fn. 23)
Geoffrey was succeeded before 1273 by another John de Tidmarsh, (fn. 24) probably his son, who was afterwards Sheriff of Oxfordshire and Berkshire and constable of Oxford Castle. (fn. 25) He died about 1300, leaving as his heir his son, a third John. (fn. 26) This John died before June 1305, being seised at the time of his death of the whole manor of Tidmarsh, including 'a messuage with a garden without the court which is called Wynhird and used to be assigned to the lady there after the death of her husband.' (fn. 27) This seems to show that Juliane de Bendenges had died childless, and that her share of the property had passed, in accordance with the settlement of 1239, to the heirs of Geoffrey.
The heir of the third John de Tidmarsh was his son and namesake, (fn. 28) whose wardship was granted to Richard de Abingdon (fn. 29); he came of age in 1317. (fn. 30) He married Margery de Sunninghill, and in 1329 settled the manor of Tidmarsh on himself and her, with reversion to his son John and contingent remainders to his younger sons Gilbert, William and Nicholas successively. (fn. 31) The date at which the fifth John succeeded to the manor is uncertain, but he died seised of it in 1382, leaving as his heir his youngest brother Nicholas. (fn. 32) Nicholas died before 1407, in which year Alice de Tidmarsh, then the wife of John Adam, held one-third of the estate in dower. (fn. 33)
The history of the manor becomes at this point extremely difficult to trace. In 1407 it was in the hands of William Walsingham 'of the Saucerie,' who granted it to John Golafre, (fn. 34) from whom it passed before 1428 to Thomas Rothwell. (fn. 35) Isabel, the widow of Thomas Rothwell, died in 1477 seised of the estate, which had been settled upon her and her second husband, John Lawley, for their lives. (fn. 36) Her heir was Robert Lenham, great-grandson of Margaret sister of Thomas Rothwell. (fn. 37)
Robert Lenham died in 1491 (fn. 38); his wife Margaret survived him, and held the manor till her death in 1498, (fn. 39) when she was succeeded by her son Henry Lenham, (fn. 40) who died in 1517. (fn. 41) In 1522 Margaret Warren, widow, sister and heir of William Lenham, Henry's heir, sold the manor to Thomas Englefield, (fn. 42) and the property then followed the descent of Englefield (q.v.) until 1585, (fn. 43) when it was forfeited to the Crown on the attainder of Sir Francis Englefield. After this date successive leases were granted to Humphrey Foster and George Fytton in 1586 (fn. 44) and to Robert Earl of Essex in 1592, (fn. 45) but there seems to have been no grant in fee of the manor until 1616, when James I gave it to Thomas Emerson. (fn. 46) Emerson sold the estate in 1617 to Sir Peter Vanlore, (fn. 47) and it subsequently followed the descent of Tilehurst (q.v.) until 1683, (fn. 48) when it was sold by John Curtis and Richard Anderson (fn. 49) to Hercules Whiteing, (fn. 50) whose co-heirs sold it in 1714 to Samuel Lynne, (fn. 51) who died before 1739. (fn. 52)
Richard Lynne, who seems to have been the son and heir of Samuel, was in possession of the manor in 1746, (fn. 53) but it was bought before 1758 by General the Hon. Robert Dalzell. (fn. 54) General Dalzell was succeeded by his grandson, Mr. Robert Dalzell, (fn. 55) who in 1762 married Miss Jane Dodd, 'an agreeable young lady of large fortune, and with every other accomplishment necessary to adorn the marriage state.' (fn. 56) He appears to be the Robert Dalzell who together with John Thomas Robert Dalzell dealt with the manor in 1785. (fn. 57) The estate passed to Mr. Charles Butler, who sold it in 1798 to Mr. John Hopkins. (fn. 58) Mr. John Edric Murray Hopkins, the great-grandson of Mr. John Hopkins, is the present lord of the manor.
There was a mill in Tidmarsh in 1239, a third of which seems to have been held in dower by Gunnora de Bendenges, while the remainder was held in equal parts by Geoffrey de Tidmarsh and by Juliane de Bendenges and Adam the son of Hervey for their lives, with reversion to Geoffrey. (fn. 59) This mill, which is described in 1305 as a water corn-mill, (fn. 60) worth 30s., and held of the Abbot of Reading by a rent of 20s., seems to have followed throughout the descent of the manor of Tidmarsh. (fn. 61) It was said in 1500 to be situated on the Pang burn, (fn. 62) and probably stood on the site of the present mill.
A fulling-mill is first mentioned in connexion with the manor of Tidmarsh in 1592, (fn. 63) when it was included in the lease of the estate to the Earl of Essex. It was granted in 1609 to Edward Ferrers and Frank Philipps, (fn. 64) but its history after this date becomes obscure.
A fishery worth 6d. was among the appurtenances of the manor of Tidmarsh in 1305 (fn. 65) and continued to belong to that estate until it came into the hands of the Englefields. (fn. 66) The fisheries in the Kennet and Farley in Englefield and Tidmarsh were attached to Englefield Manor. These were excepted from the lease to Humphrey Foster and George Fytton on the plea that they belonged to Englefield House. (fn. 67) There was also a fishery in the 'water called Rockclose.' (fn. 68)
'A warren of conys' was mentioned in connexion with the manor of Tidmarsh in 1544, (fn. 69) and in 1618 James I granted to Peter Vanlore the right of free warren there, to keep deer, rabbits and pheasants. (fn. 70) This right continued to be one of the appurtenances of the manor at least as late as 1656. (fn. 71) Free warren in Tidmarsh belonged to the lords of Englefield Manor, (fn. 72) who also retained a right of view of frankpledge in Tidmarsh. (fn. 73) A dove-house was attached to the manor of Tidmarsh in 1785. (fn. 74)
Rights of common of pasture in Peatmore in Tidmarsh were leased in the 13th century to the lord of Englefield. (fn. 75) Common of pasture was successfully claimed also by Aimery de Mulsho in 1241, (fn. 76) and by William of Sulham and Sara his wife in 1242, against Geoffrey de Tidmarsh and Gunnora and Juliane de Bendenges. (fn. 77)
The church of ST. LAWRENCE consists of an apsidal chancel of semioctagonal form measuring internally 12 ft. 6 in. in diameter, an aisleless nave 67 ft. 9 in. by 17 ft. 9 in. with a modern north vestry and south porch and a wooden bell-turret at the west end.
The nave is that of a late 12th-century church, the eastern part of which was replaced about 1220 by the present chancel arch and apsidal chancel. A little later in the century windows were inserted in the nave. The vestry was added in 1879 and in 1897 the church was completely restored, when buttresses were built at the ends of the nave walls.
The semi-octagonal chancel, which is designed with all the grace and elegance of the early 13th century, is lighted by five lancet windows—one in each side—having splayed outer jambs of two orders and wide internal splays. The sills of the north-west and south-west windows were originally carried down to a lower level than the others, but, although the north light is in its original state, the sill of the south window has been raised and a modern piscina is inserted in it. Of the other windows only the inner order of the east window and the sill and west jamb of the south-east light have been at all restored. In the angles of the semi-octagon are groups of triple clustered shafts having stiff-leaved capitals with moulded abaci and bases and in the angle formed with the west wall are single shafts of a similar description. Over the apse is a vault carried on richly moulded ribs which spring from the shafted angle piers and meet in a central foliated boss. This is apparently a restoration in plaster. The pointed chancel arch is of two chamfered orders with a moulded label towards the nave terminating in foliated stops. The responds, which are of the same section as the arch, have moulded abaci. The walls are covered externally with rough-cast and at the sill level is a string-course of the same section.
In the north wall of the nave are three windows, the easternmost being a small lancet with grooves for an external shutter, wide inner splays and a modern sill. The two western windows, which are modern copies of the originals, are each of two pointed lights with a pierced spandrel under a pointed head with an external hood mould. A little further west is a modern pointed doorway opening into the vestry. The south wall of the nave has exactly similar lighting. Opposite to the vestry door is the elaborate late 12th-century south doorway of three continuous round-arched orders. The inner order is enriched with cheveron ornament and leaf enrichment and the intermediate order by a chain design with studs in the links, while the outer order has a smaller variant of the same design intermixed with scrollwork and an outer band of spear-head ornament. It is broken at the springing level by semicircular foils, and there is a trefoiled panel at the apex, probably a 13th-century insertion, carved with a bearded face. In the west wall are three modern lancets. The walls inside are plastered and externally are covered with rough-cast. At the line of the chancel arch are two modern buttresses, and at the western angles of the nave are diagonal buttresses, also modern. The stringcourse under the windows in the west wall is modern. The porch and vestry are built of brick faced with flint with stone dressings, the latter having an east window of one light and a north window of two lights.
At the west end of the nave is the oak framing carrying the bell-turret. The timbers are original, but have been carved in recent years with a design copied from the ornament round the south doorway. The turret is covered with shingles and is surmounted by a small spire of the same material. The bell-chamber is lighted by two ogee-headed openings on each side. Over the nave is an open trussed rafter roof, divided into four bays by tie-beams, with kingposts which support a longitudinal tie. The font, which was found some eighty years ago buried in the churchyard, is of the late 12th century. It is circular and stands on a plinth, while round the bowl is carved an arcade of interlacing arches supported on small shafts with crude capitals and bases. The pulpit, although considerably restored, is of 15th-century date. It is hexagonal and the corner posts are carried down to the ground and have moulded bases, the lower part being open and the upper part panelled. In five of the sides are foliated and cusped ogeeheaded cinquefoiled panels, with foliated and cusped quatrefoils within circles in the spandrels, but in the sixth side is a square-headed mitred panel. The 18th-century altar rail has turned balusters with intermediate diminutive Doric columns supporting the rail.
During a 'restoration' which took place about sixty years ago many early wall paintings were discovered, but, being imperfect, they were again plastered over, with the exception of those on the jambs of the north-east window of the nave, which were apparently more complete than the others. On the east jamb is the figure of a saint, his left hand uplifted in benediction and holding a book in his right. The face has been restored. On the opposite jamb is a bearded figure of St. Bartholomew with knife and book. They are probably of 13th-century date and are painted in red and yellow ochre, which is now very faint, and outlined with a dark brown colour. Each figure stands on a low painted base, with an arcade, and the workmanship in both cases is crude.
In the floor at the east end of the nave are three tomb slabs, in which are set brasses. The middle one is of Purbeck marble and in the centre is the brass of a knight in armour of 16th-century character and a tabard with the six fleurs de lis of Lenham quartering a bend lozengy and a chief. The upper part of his head has been broken off, and of the inscription below him only the matrix is left. Let into the top dexter and bottom sinister corners of the slab are small brass shields charged with his arms as on the tabard; in the top sinister corner is a shield charged with the arms of (1) Lenham quartering (2) Englefield, (3) a bend lozengy and a chief, (4) a fesse between six martlets for Russell. In the bottom dexter shield the arms are quartered, 1 and 4 as (2) above, and 2 and 3 as (4) above. In the slab to the north (which is also of Purbeck marble) is the brass of a lady in late 15th-century costume. Below is an inscription to Margaret wife of Thomas Wode, a justice of Common Pleas, and formerly wife of Robert Lenham, lord of the manor of Tidmarsh. She died 5 December 1499. Above were originally three shields, but only the centre one with the arms of Lenham is left. The brass in the third slab is to William Dale and his wife Elizabeth, who died 21 October 1533. Above the inscription are the matrices for the brasses of the man and his wife and of a shield above them, while below the inscription are two indents for the brasses of his children.
There are three bells: the treble inscribed 'John Knight, Samuel Knight, 1687'; the second 'Love God, 1649'; and the third in black letters, 'Sit nomen dñi benedictum,' with the mark of John Saunders. (fn. 78)
The registers previous to 1813 are as follows: (i) baptisms and burials 1730 to 1812, marriages 1731 to 1789; (ii) marriages 1755 to 1812. The earlier registers were burnt with those of Sulham in a fire at Sulham rectory in the early 19th century.
There was a church in Tidmarsh before 1239, in which year the advowson was granted by Geoffrey de Tidmarsh to Juliane de Bendenges and her husband Adam the son of Hervey. (fn. 79) In 1257 Juliane sold 1½ virgates of land in Tidmarsh and three messuages there to Laurence Osperun for 100s. and 2d. yearly at Easter for all service. (fn. 80) This Laurence Osperun was afterwards rector of Tidmarsh. He probably needed the land for his own support, as he obtained licence from the pope to hold this living together with that of Heyford Warren because their joint value hardly exceeded 11 marks. (fn. 81) The rectory was not included in the Taxation of Pope Nicholas in 1291.
By the agreement of 1239 (q.v. supra) the advowson of Tidmarsh ought to have reverted on the death without issue of Adam and Juliane to Geoffrey, (fn. 82) but it is not mentioned in the extremely detailed extent of the manor in 1305, (fn. 83) and had probably, therefore, been granted away for one or more turns by the third John de Tidmarsh. It was certainly in the possession of his son and namesake before 1329, (fn. 84) and has since that date followed the descent of the manor. (fn. 85) The present patron is Mr. John Edric Murray Hopkins, whose grandfather built the present rectory.
In 1674 Lady Levingstone, by will, charged her estate with an annuity of £6 for the benefit of the poor. The rent-charge was redeemed in 1863 by a transfer of £200 consols to the official trustees, and the income of £5 is distributed among the poor.
In 1827 Robert Hopkins, by will, bequeathed the sum of £400 consols, the interest to be expended in the distribution of blankets, coals or wood. The sum of £400 consols is held by the official trustees, and the income of £10 is distributed according to the donor's directions.